An imaginative generation continues to pass away from us, now with the death of Alvin Lucier.
Music critic Allan Kozinn, who has had the sad task of doing a lot of musical eulogizing as a specialization for the gray lady, writes an eloquent article for The New York Times on the American composer, who died today:
Mr. Lucier seemed to approach his works as experiments that might yield unpredictable soundscapes.
A finished work could sound like howling feedback, electronic crackling or — in the case of his best-known piece, “I Am Sitting in a Room” (1969) — a spoken text that with repetition becomes increasingly distorted and overlaid with reverberation until it is transformed into a symphony of dancing overtones.
And though his music was rooted in the physics of sound, variables like the size and shape of the performance space or the alpha wave patterns a performer generates made his pieces sound different from one performance to the next.
And yet again news of a fallen idol is spreading through social media, tracing musical connections and inspirational threads:
From 2015, an interview with fellow composer Evan Zipoyrn (hi, Evan!):
Lucier gave a long public talk digging into his own history and ideas, back when Red Bull Music Academy was still a thing in 2017:
And I’d love to get this one to screen – there’s a film by Viola Rusche & Hauke Harder from 2012. Composing is “eliminating possibilities” and finding the essential:
For a real glimpse into the mind of Lucier, here he is in 1965 amplifying his own brain waves – with no less than Nicolas Collins on electronics:
And since everyone is into the Beatles these days for some reason – here’s the composer at the piano:
On Cage, because that always comes up:
And here’s Tim Feeney performing Opera with Objects:
Plenty of experimental music people basically can recite this one from heart:
Condolences to everyone Lucier has touched, in the same room or far away.